Tag Archives: awesome

Wise Words: The Mad To Live

This month’s featured amazing woman is Lauren Rains, from The Mad To Live!

An adventurer, entrepreneur, blogger, and all-around life enthusiast, Laur is one inspiring girl! She is on a mission to get people so freakin’ excited about their lives that they explode. Okay, maybe not explode, but live their lives to the fullest!

I gotta say, I love this girl. Her passionate love of life is so contagious, and visiting her blog always gets me excited about my life and everything in it.

So, please welcome this firecracker, and fellow China expat, to My Smiling Heart!

What encouraged you to start The Mad To Live?

Well, it sort of just happened. When I was living in Beijing I started a blog to keep my family updated and to just journal my thoughts while living abroad. After a few months I realized that I wasn’t really writing about travel, but more about things I found inspiring, dreams I wanted to pursue, people I’d met along my journey that had impacted me.

And that’s when I started to investigate the whole blogging, social media thing. Needless to say, I fell in love!

I fell in love with the community of people I’ve connected with that inspire me everyday to be a better person, I fell in love with writing and reading posts, I fell in love with the projects that stem from it. I can honestly say that starting The Mad To Live was one of the best things I’ve ever fallen into in my life.

Do you know what things you need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain your happiness? What are they?

A sense of “exploration” is absolutely key! That’s why I’m addicted to travel and passion projects. I love to experience things for the first time… I feel the most alive when that’s happening. So, I suppose you could say that on a regular basis I must see, experience, or try something… irregular!

What advice would you give to someone who is going through a challenging time?

I would tell them to dig deep within and find out the source and the root of whatever it is that’s creating this challenging time. Oftentimes on the outside it seems like we’re going through a tough time for countless reasons, but when it comes down to it it’s normally something very crucial that we haven’t yet faced.

I’d also tell them to gather a group of their closest friends and go out for a wild, crazy night on the town filled with laughs and ridiculousness. Sometimes a little break from a mental-block, bad mood, drama etc helps us to get out of our heads and remember that despite the challenges we can still enjoy life! Besides, who doesn’t love a few (too many!) glasses of wine with your closest friends?

Why do you think it is so important that we make our own paths in life rather than follow the paths of others?

There are so many reasons that it’s essential to follow your own path. But for me, what it comes down to is that if one isn’t following their true path in life then simply stated, they aren’t really living. They aren’t being who they are meant to be, doing what they’re meant to do, seeing what they’re meant to see. It is when we follow our own paths that we discover the unique talents and gifts we have to offer the world. And you know what? The world needs us to do that. The world needs people who are blazing their own trails, following their passion, finding happiness.

If you aren’t doing that… you aren’t really living. You’re just existing.

What has creating your own path in life taught you most?

It’s taught me the importance of true, authentic, hard work combined with being my true, authentic self. It’s been so clear to me based on my own experiences and watching the success of some of the amazing people I get to talk with everyday that if you put in 120% true, authentic effort you can achieve whatever you set out to do. And I mean that… 90% isn’t enough… you have to put in 120%. You have to really WANT it. You have to really DREAM it.

From where I sit today I can look back on the past year and say to myself that I lived in Beijing, China for a year where I worked for an adventure company doing all their web work and started a popular hiking club for Expats and locals. I’m now in the process of starting my own web design business so I can move abroad again and support myself 100%. Has any of this been a walk in the park? Hell no! I’ve worked my ass off! But it has been a blast! I have learned so much from both the great days and the worst days whether it have to do with culture shock or business shock.

If you give 120% you can follow whatever path in life your wildest imagination can dream of. 🙂

What wise words do you live by?

Okay, the best way I can explain this is the self-talk I give myself when I’m about to jump into a freezing cold pool or ocean. You see.. I hate cold water… loathe it! But I LOVE it after that first second of terrible pain. And so every time I’m about to jump in I say to myself something along the lines of, “Okay Lauren… this is it… you only live once and you just have to do it. You just have to jump in. And during that 1 second don’t think about the pain of it, but think about the fact that you’re alive and feeling it! I’m feeling, seeing, touching, BEING.” So then I jump, and I’m so happy and I stand up in the water and I feel really alive in that moment.

I know, I know… it sounds kind of strange… but that’s how I try to live my life. Whatever it may be… good or bad – I just like to jump in and enjoy, learn from, and recognize every tiny little aspect of it.

What is something you are really proud of?

I’m really proud to have the friends in my life that I do, and I’m so proud of the fact that I love them like they are my family. I’m proud that there are people in my life that I can’t live without and that complete me and they feel the same way about me.

It seems to me that some of us get so caught up in our lives that we forget about our friends… the very people that help to make us who we are, the ones that pull us up when we’re down, the one’s that give it to us straight when we’re being complete and utter morons, the ones that we can act like complete and utter morons with!

The value of friendship… it seems to me people put this one on the backburner too much as they get older. But I know that my personal growth would be impossible without these people, and I’m really proud to have friendship as one of my greatest values.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you?

“Get out of your head, Lauren.”, said my oldest friend since 3rd grade Jaime. I had been going on and on and on about all these things that I’d been thinking about over and over again FOREVER. I had let all these things pile up and make me anxious, worried, stressed, and essentially depressed. And finally she laid down the law for me without sugar coating it and just told me to get out of my head.

It was at that moment that I realized I had been so caught up in my own self-talk that I had forgotten to enjoy life, to remember the bigger picture, to recognize there are thousands of positive things I could be thinking about instead of the 5 negatives.

The second you get out of your head is the second you’ve set yourself free to do whatever it is you’re meant to do.

What are you most grateful for?

I’m most grateful to my friends of course as I mentioned above. But in addition to that I’m most grateful for the people in my life believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m not sure if without their push and their encouragement I would have ever gotten out of the limbo I had been stuck in.

I’m also extremely grateful for warm summer nights + cold drinks + good music + great friends & good stories. I live for those nights… that’s when I’m most happy.

How do you want to inspire people?

I want to inspire people to truly, deeply LIVE. I guess that’s why I ultimately named my blog ‘The Mad To Live’. I want to see everyone around me feel ALIVE… not just being or doing or living… but BEING, DOING, LIVING. I know differentiating the two between caps and lowercase doesn’t say much but if you read between the lines there is such a big difference between the two.

I want to see people reach the age of 85 and look back on their life and say, “Damn… 85…. and I lived each of them with more life and passion than the last.”

What makes your heart smile?

Nothing makes my heart smile more than seeing someone doing something that brings them to life. My heart smiles when people tell me about the things they’re passionate about and suddenly their face is glowing, their talk is eager and excited, their aura is alive. I love that.. partially because I’m selfish… I find it contagious!

Also, beautiful websites make my heart smile, as well as cute boys (especially Spanish ones hehe), lemonade on a hot summer day, finding a book I love so much I read it in one weekend, seeing the skyline of the city I’m about to land in within a country I’ve never been to, and last but not least, long bike rides at sunset while I listen to music.

Check out Lauren’s site, The Mad To Live, and follow her on twitter and facebook.

Go smile at yourself,

Jen ♥

*A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and donated to our 30 Days Of Beauty fundraiser – we have reached our goal of raising $300 for To Write Love On Her Arms! WOOHOO! 😀

Shine Your Light On The World.

You are so amazing.

You have everything you need to live the life you dream of, to accomplish those goals and overcome those fears.

You have the strength, courage and wisdom needed to follow your heart.

You have the creativity, passion and self-belief needed to create your own path.

You have the compassion, purpose and determination needed to make this world a better place.

You have the power. You are the power.

There are people who may read this and roll their eyes. They are afraid of their own power, so they convince themselves that they have none, and make fun of anything or anyone that suggests otherwise. It’s safer that way.

They will even try to convince you that you have no power, to ensure that they will have company in their safe little box of doubts and fears.

Don’t listen to anyone who speaks from fear.

Listen to yourself. Listen to your heart. That inner whisper that knows your truth.

The more you listen to your heart, the louder it will become, until it is so loud and true and clear that it drowns out all the outside voices of fear and hate.

Please. Please! Don’t dim your light for anyone. Don’t hide in the shadows.

Shine your light on the world. Shine it so bright that it touches every living creature on this Earth.

Shine it so bright that it sends sparks of rainbows into the ocean like shooting stars.

You are an amazing, marvellous, incredible, wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, powerful, magical, miracle of the Universe!

Dance amongst the sparkles of your soul, and be gloriously, irrevocably, YOU.

 

Jen ♥

Wise Words: Life Lessons In Fight Club

I love movies. One of my favourite things to do is go to the movies, or even just stay home and watch an old favourite. As a result, I ace Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon, quote movies way more than I need to, and often figure out how a movie is going play out about five minutes in – much to the annoyance of my fiance.

So, because movies are such a big part of my everyday life, it makes sense to somehow incorporate them into this blog. Every now and then, I will dedicate a Wise Words Wednesday post to a movie that is both awesome and inspiring, and writing about what life lessons we can learn from these films.

Today, it’s Fight Club. I know, awesome first choice, right? 😀

“I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.”

~ Tyler Durden

We have so much choice, so much freedom, so much potential, and more opportunities than ever, yet so many of us are going through the same routine, every day, every year, for our whole lives. As Tyler says, we work jobs we hate, to buy things we don’t need. And none of it makes us happy.

But lately I’ve been seeing sparks of hope. People risking it all to follow their passion, and turning what they love into successful businesses that not only make them happy but create a ripple effect of positivity throughout the world.

I’m one of those people. I’ve decided to follow my passion, and turn it into my job. I won’t waste my potential anymore. And I especially won’t listen to the media’s (or anyone else’s) definition of success or failure.

“You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

~ Tyler Durden

I have a few things to add to that. You are not your house. You are not your dress size. You are not your Jimmy Choos. You are not how many facebook friends or twitter followers you have.

You are highly underestimating yourself (and others) if you think those things make you who you are.

You are how much you express love and kindness to others. You are what you share with the world. You are how you treat yourself and others. You are your thoughts.

“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”

~ Tyler Durden

This is an awesome way of saying ‘Be Yourself.’

Be your beautiful, authentic self, instead of acting the way others act, or doing things because you think that’s what is expected of you. Staying true to yourself is so important for happiness.

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”

~ Tyler Durden

Man, I so relate to this. Although I wouldn’t really call my experiences ‘disasters’, it was enough to make me feel as though I had no choice but to rebuild myself. And now I’m better than ever – Jen 2.0, haha! But I would never have been able to resurrect myself, if I hadn’t crumbled first.

Through challenges and disaster, we learn and grow. Things collapse, and we rebuild it all, making sure it’s stronger than it was before.

“Fuck off with your sofa units and string green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”

~ Tyler Durden

More and more people are starting to let go of material possessions as a route to happiness, and even more are starting to embrace their imperfections, rather than run from them. We are evolving. Everything that doesn’t really matter is starting to slowly fall away.

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

~ Narrator

Why spend it stewing over what they said about you? Why spend it frowning at yourself in the mirror? Why spend it sending negativity out into the Universe? Why waste another minute of this one life doing anything that doesn’t make you heart smile?

Life is short and precious. Cherish every minute, smile every chance you get, and be a force of good in this world.

Love,

Jen ♥

*What puts the YOU in beaYOUtiful? Share it on twitter, using the hashtag #imbeautifulbecause, and join the 30 Days Of Beauty Challenge! We’ve already raised almost 1/3 of our fundraising goal for To Write Love On Her Arms! 😀 Yay!


30 Days Of Beauty

Hello beautiful!

Welcome to this very special edition of My Smiling Heart! 😀

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new awesome project with a twitter friend, Jen Fromal. Today, we are finally able to share it with the world! And, because we are an amazing little community, we have designed it so that there are many ways for YOU to be a part of the fun! Let the AWESOMENESS begin! 😀

30DaysOfBeauty

 

 

30DaysOfBeauty is a lifestyle experiment designed to boost self-esteem and encourage women (and men!) to see how truly beautiful they are – and raise money for a good cause in the process! Everybody wins!

Created by the two Jens, one the writer of The Smashed Planet and the other the writer of My Smiling Heart, 30DaysOfBeauty will use tweeting and blogging to spread a message of self-love and self-worth.

For 30 days, starting on the 1st of April 2011, the two Jens will take to their twitter accounts (@jenfromal and @smiling_heart) dedicating one tweet per day to a reason why they are beautiful.

Each 30DaysOfBeauty tweet will finish with the hashtag #imbeautifulbecause, encouraging others to join in on the fun and tweet about why they are beautiful, too!

Every week, the two Jens will each write a post about their progress on the 30DaysOfBeauty challenge, list their #imbeautifulbecause tweets from the previous week, and also include some of their favourite #imbeautifulbecause tweets from others.

Now, here’s the most important part.

Through Crowdrise, the two Jens will be using this 30 day challenge to raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms, a cause that is dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

We are dedicating these 30 days to raise at least $300 for To Write Love On Her Arms.

So get ready to tweet up a storm in April! Follow the two Jens as they uncover the many reasons why they are beautiful, and raise money for an amazing cause in the process. Join in on the 30DaysOfBeauty challenge!

 

It’s time to put the YOU in beaYOUtiful!

 

I will also be posting my #imbeautifulbecause statements on the My Smiling Heart facebook page, and I would love you to share your #imbeautifulbecuase statements on there too! 🙂

*For more information on our thirty days projects and how it started, check out the 30Days tab at the top of the page.

*We have also added an option on our Crowdrise page to donate to the RedCross in order to help all those affected by the Japan earthquakes and tsunami.

You are AWESOME!

Jen ♥

Note: The Two Jens are not official representatives of TWLOHA, only dedicated supporters of the cause.



10 Reasons Why You’re AWESOME!

1. You have a gorgeous smile.

You really do. The whole world becomes brighter when you smile.

2. You’re doing the best that you can.

I know you are. You may not know where you’re going, or what to do next, but one thing is for sure, you’re doing your best. And that’s enough.

3. You’re a kickass dancer.

C’mon, don’t pretend it’s not true.

4. You have a big heart.

The way you love and care for others is amazing. Never stop loving like you do.

5. You’re so good at what you do.

It’s true – you totally rock!

6. You inspire people.

Believe it. You won’t ever know just how many people you inspire every day, but I can tell you now that you inspire me just by being who you are.

7. You are loved.

Truth.

8. You’re not perfect.

You are awesomely imperfect. I love that about you.

9. You never give up.

After everything you’ve been through, all the challenges you’ve overcome, you’re still here. You’ve proven that you can handle anything that comes your way. Be proud.

10. You put the YOU in beaYOUtiful.

And don’t you forget it!

Stay Awesome! 😀

Jen ♥

*My recent post Enough was just featured on the beautiful Kind Over Matter blog! 😀 Check it out!

Wise Words: Keep It Simple.

“I can express gratitude for the simple act of being able to breathe in and breathe out. I can move away from darkness and depression to light and hope.

I can be happy with who I am, not what I should be, or what I might have been, or what someone tells me I must be.

I am me, the true me; you are you, the true you – and that’s good. That’s beautiful. That’s enough.”

~ Janet Jackson

How AWESOME is this quote? So simple, yet so true.

I guess, when it comes down to it, life actually is pretty simple.

We breathe in, we breathe out. We drink, we eat. We rest, we move. We laugh, we love. We give, we receive. We share, we thank.

The real truth is, life is simple. It’s not complicated, it’s not hard, and it’s not unfair.

We are the ones who complicate it with our worries, we are the ones who choose to see it as hard, we are the ones who choose to live as victims rather than empower ourselves to live our best lives.

I am me, and you are you. It’s as simple as that. We are alive, we are healthy, we are loved, and we are blessed. That is enough.

And if you take the time, even just thirty seconds, to count your blessings for today, you might just see that what you have is, in fact, much more than enough.

Keep it simple.

Jen ♥

*MARCH already? 2011 is flying by! Now is a great time to go back and revisit the 2011 Virtual Vision Wall! Stay motivated, stay inspired, and most of all, stay AWESOME! 🙂

*My Smiling Heart was just featured on Positively Present, in a post called “be amazing anyway: self-love wrap-up + resources!” Check it out here 🙂

*Thank you to My Smiling Heart reader, Karen, for sharing this quote on Facebook and inspiring this Wise Words post! 🙂

Link Love :)

Tumblr of the Week!

Hello beautiful people!

I hope the sun is shining brightly for you, regardless of the weather outside 🙂

I want to share some more links with you, to sites, blogs, articles, videos, anything that has touched me and made my heart smile this week.

Before I do that, here is the theme for tomorrow’s Link Love Friday on the My Smiling Heart facebook page:

Favourites: post a link to your favourite blog post that you have written, the piece of writing that you are most proud of. If you don’t have a blog, share a link to your favourite blog post from one of your favourite blogs.

I’m excited to read all of your awesome posts! 😀

Until then, here’s some awesomeness for you:

 

The Short and Sweet Guide to Being Fucking Awesome from inoveryourhead.

 

Can’t Find a Dream Job? Create Your Own from Zen Habits.

 

Send this clip to every woman you know. from mamamia.

 

32 Small Ways to Change the World from Abundance Blog.

 

ROAR from Awakening Women.

 

The Wild Donkey Secret to Getting Stuff Done from Goddess Guidebook.

 

Meet Zonia Saloj, One of the Girls WE Sponsored! from I Want Her Job.

 

Devote yourself to an idea. from workisnotajob.

 

deer visits cat every morning! from The Kind Life.

 

5 reasons self-love is not selfish from Positively Present.

 

12 Ways to Find Joy In Life from The Bold Life.

 

The Top 20 Things Oprah Knows for Sure from Oprah online.

 

The 10 LAWS You Must Never Break In Order To Avoid Changing The World from The Mad To Live.

 

And to finish, here’s an AWESOME quote:

“I’m happy and I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness.” ~ Drew Barrymore

Keep Smiling ! 🙂

Jen ♥


Wise Words: Bohemian Musings

Today marks the beginning of a new monthly segment on My Smiling Heart, in which I interview inspiring, passionate, and creative women about how they are following their bliss and living a positive life.

Our first amazing guest couldn’t be more fitting of this description!

Jessika Gilker is a Free Spirit who spends her time taking pictures, doing yoga on the beach and travelling off the beaten path in her quest to live a full authentic life. She lives in Greece where her and her husband run Fresko, a Juice Bar on the Beach.

I know, AWESOME, right? 😀

I discovered Jess’ blog, Bohemian Musings, only a few weeks ago, but I’ve already been so inspired by her journey and wisdom, I just had to ask her to be the first My Smiling Heart interviewee!

What encouraged you to start Bohemian Musings?

I started Bohemian Musings in the New Year on a whim, wanting to learn more about the world of Information Technology, as well as explore my Passion for writing and photography.

I soon realized that starting this blogging journey was opening me up to a whole new world of personal growth. The reasons that motivate me now to continue this journey are:

  • I want to Challenge myself on a whole new level and expose my Thoughts, Feelings and Inspirations for the world to see. Being vulnerable is scary but can teach you so much about yourself. I’m introspective by nature. I spend a lot of time with my thoughts in my head and tend to share them only with my closest entourage. So this is a way to set those thoughts free.
  • Since I’ve chosen to live an Unconventional life by society’s standards and have found success and happiness on my personal journey, I hope I can help others see that it’s not out of their reach either. Meeting really cool, like-minded individuals (like yourself) is an added bonus of being a blogger.

Do you know what things you need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain your happiness? What are they?

Keeping my body, mind and spirit balanced is what leads to my happiness. Attaining that balance requires me to be conscious in all areas of my life as not one thing makes me whole but several together. They are:

Yoga is my salvation, it keeps me centered and in the present moment, while laughing and being around the people I love is what makes it worthwhile.

Writing, photography and design are what I need to do regularly to let my creative energy free and being curious and learning keeps my life fresh and exciting.

My strong interest in nutrition and my vegetarian lifestyle keep me healthy and ready to pursue my frequent adventures even if it’s exploring something on my doorstep that I’ve never seen before.

Making sure to spend time alone each day to reconnect with my thoughts allows me to be rejuvenated and ready for whatever life throws at me.

What advice would you give to someone who is going through a challenging time?

Don’t give up. Challenges, fear, and self-doubt are all part of the journey.

Roadblocks are placed strategically on our path to see just how badly we want something. If you persevere you will succeed.

Instead of viewing obstacles negatively, and allowing them to stop you from your goals, ask yourself what lesson you can gain from what is happening. As long as you are following your passions and being true to yourself you will make it. Remember, that those who fail and quit, are usually just around the corner from turning their dreams to reality.

Why do you think it is so important that we make our own paths in life rather than follow the paths of others?

Following anyone else’s path in life except your own will only lead to misery because it means ignoring your inner voice.

I tried it by wearing a white lab coat and studying bacteria, but it quickly ate away at my being until there was no other solution but to accept that this was not for me. Instead of ignoring what was left of my soul, I chose to listen to its cries.

My intuition served me well, and I was soon on my way to a dream internship doing research on Loggerhead Sea Turtles in a small village I never heard of in a country that I had never really given much thought. The next 6 months gave me time to reflect and realize where and what I wanted to be and following my inner voice has led me to achieving more than I could have ever imagined.

We weren’t created to follow others. We all have unique talents that we need to share. The universe wants to help us achieve our dreams but we must first believe in ourselves.

If we spent less time comparing ourselves to others and more time realizing that being unique is a blessing, something to be cultivated and then taken and served to the world as we see fit then we could all be happy on our own unique paths.

What has creating your own path in life taught you most?

If you can Dream it, you can do it.

Any goal, or dream that I have pursued with all my heart, strength and courage, I have achieved. Some have come easy, others have tested every last ounce of power from my being, but through hard work and perseverance, they have become a reality. I also learned that I was much more strong than I gave myself credit for and to always trust my intuition.

What wise words do you live by?

Live. Love. Laugh. Three simple words that individually hold such a strong message. They are the three ingredients to a happy and successful life.

What is something you are really proud of?

I’m really proud that I had the strength and courage to know that I had to choose my own way from an early age. I’m happy I went to University and tried the career route early on, so that there are no doubts in my head about which is best for me. I’m proud to be living my journey on my own terms.

Professionally speaking, Fresko, my Juice Bar in Greece is a joint effort of creativity and love that my husband and I have made a reality and I’m real proud of our success.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you?

I was lucky to have a very wise and supportive father, who was also a free spirit in his own right.

He always made me believe that I could achieve anything, and that no dream was crazy as long as it’s what I really wanted and worked hard to attain it. He instilled great confidence within me and gave me space to make my own decisions from a very young age.

He set me on the path to think for myself and I surely would not be where I am today without such a great influence.

What are you most grateful for?

My life. My family. Being a Generalist (Jack of all Trades) has opened me up to so many opportunities and has helped to push me in the direction I am in today. If I didn’t have the ability to be passionate about 101 things at the same time (Yes, it’s normal), then I would not be where I am. My passions lead me to more passions and in turn to adventures that have opened door after door in my life.

How do you want to inspire people?

My hope is that if someone can find one positive or inspiring message or idea from something I have written or experienced and can add it to their own life and it allows them to take a step closer to a goal or dream then that would make me happy.

Life is so short and so beautiful, I just want to inspire people to open their eyes and take a deep breath and really see what’s around them, then LIVE, but according to their own rules.

What makes your heart smile?

So many simple things 🙂 Sunrises, yoga on the beach, a good book, bird’s singing, the exhilaration in discovering a new place through Travel, my husband’s laughter, Broadway, my Spaniel, Murt and Harry my rescued cats from Croatia, inspiring blogs, music, bright colors, vegetarian/vegan restaurants, Organic Fair Trade Coffee, Champagne, Sunsets and the list goes on and on….

Join Jessika on her Journey at Bohemian Musings, where she blogs about her thoughts and inspirations on how to live an Unconventional life straight to your dreams. Follow her on Twitter @bohemianmusings.

Hope you enjoyed the first My Smiling Heart interview!

Keep Smiling! 😀

Jen ♥

*A big THANK YOU to each and every one of you! Because of you, I reached my goal of making it to 50 fans on the My Smiling Heart facebook page by my 24th Birthday! You ROCK! 😀


*Did you see my guest post on The Mad To Live? I was asked to write about what I would say in a message in a bottle – so much fun! 😀 Check it out here!


*Another big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in Friday’s ‘Share The Love, Share Your Links’ event on the facebook page, it was so AWESOME learning more about all of you through your blogs – looking forward to doing it all again this Friday! 😀

Peace Wherever You Go ♥

Admiring the Summer Palace, Beijing

It’s amazing how much travelling can put personal growth and self-discovery into warp-speed mode.

Being in a new place, whether it’s around the corner from your home or on the other side of the world, heightens your senses and forces you to live in the moment, taking in everything you possibly can.

I learnt a lot about myself recently when Mike and I spent a week in Beijing. Even though we’ve been living in China for seven months, this was our first real back packing adventure with just the two of us, and something we had wanted to do for years.

Even though I had an amazing time there and will always look back on it as one of my best adventures yet, I wasn’t really looking forward to it beforehand.

We had organised to stay in a hostel, something I’d never done before, and even though we had booked a private room, I was a bit anxious about it. I’m a pretty shy and quiet person, an introvert, so being in a place that constantly has such a huge social atmosphere is a little overwhelming.

The overnight train rides to and from Beijing had also been making me a bit anxious, as it requires being in a cabin with total strangers for twelve hours, spending most of your time trying not to invade each others’ space while you attempt to navigate the bunks or move around the halls.

The fact that I had been worrying about these little things for the days leading up to our Beijing adventure obviously didn’t help anything either, so I eventually found myself losing all excitement for it.

But, as usual, I soon discovered that my worries were complete fiction, a waste of time, complete an utter bull.

I have learnt, during my years overcoming anxiety, the only way to stop being afraid of something, is to just do it.

The anxious mind is a trickster, a heckler, and a brilliant illusionist. And, as with any other form of unnecessary and unconstructive criticism, the best way to handle it is to not let it stop you from living the life you want to live, to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’

And that is just what I did.

The train rides were actually pretty fun, and not at all as bad as my mind had made me believe it would be. The hostel, well, that was just plain AWESOME. The people we so cool and friendly, the room was great, the food was freaking delicious, and we were encouraged to grab some textas and write on the walls. That is every artists’ dream!

The 365 Inn, where we stayed.

The message Mike wrote on wall

It ended up being one of the best weeks of my entire life, full of adventure, risk-taking, meeting new people, seeing amazing places, and coming home with a thousand awesome memories and a new sense of confidence, accomplishment and self-awareness.

In a traditional Chinese dress.

At the Summer Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A moment I know I will never forget occurred on Chinese New Year, Mike and I were standing on the rooftop of the hostel, counting down to midnight, and being completely surrounded by fireworks. Explosions of sound, colour, and cheers erupted again and again for almost an hour as families and friends throughout Beijing celebrated the new year.

I felt so blessed to be there to witness it, and I knew in that moment that I had come so, so far… too far to ever go back to the person I used to be. I felt a wave of relief as I realised then that my fears would never get in the way of me living my life ever again.

I was reminded of that rooftop moment just the other night. I was walking through the snow on my way to meet Mike for dinner, when fireworks started exploding right in front of me, continuing the 15 day celebrations for Spring Festival.

Fireworks in Daqing

As I looked up at the amazing colours falling from the sky, and felt the sweet kisses of snowflakes as they touched my skin, I realised I was, in that moment, proving to myself that I can do anything.

You see, a year ago, I was too afraid to open my front door when the doorbell rang. Too anxious to walk down our short driveway just to check the mail. I even avoided going into the backyard alone, in case I was seen by a neighbour and forced into a potentially uncomfortable or awkward conversation.

I would never have admitted it then, in fact I wouldn’t have admitted it even six months ago, but I was so trapped by my own fears that I just avoided them altogether, until I couldn’t leave the house unless I was with someone.

So, imagine my pride when I suddenly realise that I am walking through the streets of a foreign city, in a foreign country, at night, completely alone, and with a freaking huge smile on my face! Thousands of miles away from my comfort zone, and not a single worry or fear on my mind.

That’s what travel can do for you.

Not long after that amazing moment on a rooftop in Beijing, but before that amazing moment in the snow, I was walking through some markets and found a stall that sold rings. I noticed one with four Chinese characters on it, and asked the woman working there what it meant.

“It mean… Peace… When you leave and when come back. Peace wherever you go.”

Peace wherever you go.

I wrote that on the wall of the 365 Inn, so that others can be inspired by it just as I was.

I’m wearing that ring now, as I write this. And I will always wear it, as a reminder of how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve overcome, in order to find my own peace, peace within myself, peace with my fears, and peace within the world.

Take some time now to look back and notice how far you have come, and what you have overcome in the process. Be proud of everything you have achieved, and how much you’ve grown! And be grateful for all the lessons you have learnt in between.

Go smile at yourself,

Jen ♥

Written on the second floor staircase of the 365 Inn, Beijing.

* Are you on Facebook? So is My Smiling Heart! Come and join us for extra fun and daily doses of awesomeness!

AWESOME SAUCE!

Another big ‘Hello!‘ from snow-covered Daqing! 🙂

I was just introduced to the brillaint phrase ‘awesome sauce’ by @DPWAssociation on Twitter, and just had to make it the title of this post!

I hope your day has been covered in AWESOME SAUCE!

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to My Smiling Heart lately, making it as awesome as possible and doing my best to make it everything it can be. It’s still early days but I have big plans for this little love of mine and I hope you will all be there to experience all the exciting things that are coming our way!

A new segment will be coming to MSH soon, as I plan to interview one inspiring and AWESOME person every month. I’m also working on more printable awesomeness, just like this one, for you to keep.

The latest development in the world of My Smiling Heart is the creation of an official Facebook fan page! Yes, My Smiling Heart is now on Facebook! *happydance*

I will be using the My Smiling Heart fan page to build more of a community for all of us, as well as posting quotes, links to inspiring videos, blogs, and music, and anything else that reeks of awesomeness!

So c’mon over and give us a ‘Like’! 😀

It’s my 24th birthday in 11 days (woohoo!) and I would love to have at least 50 fans by then (22nd Feb), so please go ahead and share it with anyone who you think would love being a part of our little community of smiling hearts 🙂 ♥

Speaking of community, I love to hear what you think of MSH, and if you have any feedback, ideas, or suggestions of what you would like me to feature here, please feel free to leave me a comment, tweet me, email me (jenartist@live.com.au), or write on our Facebook wall.

And if you’re a blogger and want to collaborate somehow, send me an email anytime. Let’s change the world!

I’m so happy I could dance, so I will! Will you dance with me? You will! 😀 Awesome sauce!

*dancesoffintothesunset*

Jen ♥